Upon hearing that the carcass of a humpback whale known as Scarlet had been towed out to sea, Keith Poe and a grad student headed offshore in hopes of finding a great white shark making a meal of it.
Hope became reality Saturday when they spotted the bloated carcass of the 55-foot whale and, from a mile away, noticed the dorsal fin of a massive great white, according to the Orange County Register.
Poe, long known as Sharktagger for his shark-tagging exploits off Southern California, shot video of the pregnant great white shark ripping into the whale about 15 miles southwest of Dana Point:
Poe told Pete Thomas Outdoors that he estimated the shark's length was nearly 18-feet long. The Register reported it as being 16 feet, but that it could be 18 feet. Whatever its accurate length, this great white shark was huge.
Even Poe was "blown away on the impressive presence of such a large predator."
"She looked like she was here to give birth – she was very large in her girth," Poe told the Register. "As she was eating the whale, it was ridiculous how big she got."
On Facebook, Poe wrote that the shark "ate so much she was swimming around upside-down aimlessly like she was intoxicated."
Also on Facebook, Poe congratulated Cal State Long Beach Shark Lab grad student Ryan Logan for tagging the great white shark. According to Pete Thomas Outdoors, Logan put two scientific tags in the shark.
"I love the challenge of finding the sharks and putting the tag on them, and seeing the reward the data provides," Poe told the Register. "Every adventure is just special to me."
The adventure of Scarlet was less so.
The whale was so nicknamed because it was covered in reddish lice when originally discovered tangled in fishing gear. It was eventually seen swimming without the entanglement but was thought to be ill.
Scarlet’s carcass was first spotted last Thursday three miles off Newport Beach. To avoid it washing ashore, officials towed it out to sea, much to the delight of one female great white shark.